How the Government Regulates International Marriage Brokers

It’s happened to most of us. We meet someone, are instantly attracted to them, and start dating them. Eventually, they start showing a side that makes us uncomfortable or even afraid, so we end the relationship, thankful that we did so before marriage and children made the separation more difficult.

It’s not that easy when you move to another country to be with that person. For years, the United States struggled with the problem of immigrants coming into the country after marrying or becoming engaged to US citizens, and then being subjected to domestic violence after arrival.

Overview of The International Marriage Broker Regulation Act 

In 2005, Congress enacted the International Marriage Broker Regulation Act (IMBRA) to protect immigrants who meet and marry US citizens through international marriage brokers. These for-profit agencies act as matchmakers between Americans and foreign nationals who want to immigrate to the US. While many of these relationships work out, others become volatile situations, with the US citizen holding leverage over their immigrant fiancé or spouse.

The IMBRA enables the US government to regulate these marriage brokers and reduce the risk of domestic violence upon arrival. Its key provisions include:

  • Prohibiting agencies from doing business with or marketing those under the age of 18.
  • Providing you (the immigrant) with background information on any American clients who want to contact you. This includes data contained in federal and state sex offender public registries. All information must be provided in your primary language.
  • Getting your written permission before putting the client in touch with you.
  • Giving you a copy of an informational pamphlet about your legal rights.
  • Requiring the US citizen to disclose specific crimes when they file Form I-129F. They must also disclose whether they have a history of substance or alcohol abuse. This information is provided to you during your consular interview.
  • Limiting the number of times a US citizen can petition a foreign-born fiancé.

While these measures have undoubtedly reduced the number of newcomers subjected to domestic violence and abuse upon arrival, there is always the risk that the person you marry will unexpectedly switch from warm and loving to a violent and controlling individual who threatens to have you deported if you resist them or don’t do as they order you to do. If that happens, there are legal options for you to be able to continue to live in the United States, such as the I-751 waiver.

The I-751 Waiver Process Explained

Form I-751 is used by immigrants who have been granted a conditional two-year permanent resident status through their marriage to a US citizen. This form, which should be submitted within 90 days of the two-year deadline, is a jointly-filed application to remove the conditions on your residency and give you the right to remain permanently.

If your spouse subjects you to domestic violence, you can seek a waiver of the joint filing requirement and file the petition yourself to have the conditions on your residence removed. You will have to prove that you entered into the marriage in good faith but your spouse’s actions made it impossible to stay in the relationship. There are also other ways to file your I-751 by yourself.

Contact a Seattle Immigration Attorney

If you married your citizen spouse in good faith and were forced to leave them for your own safety, let Zafiro Law help you obtain the I-751 waiver you need to continue your life here. Attorney Katrina Zafiro firmly protects the rights and well-being of immigrant clients who have been deceived and mistreated after arrival, and will fight for a positive outcome. For more information, please call us today 206-547-9906.

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Zafiro Law

As an attorney, I am passionate about helping my clients achieve peace of mind in navigating the complex areas of family law and immigration law. Your case will get my full and dedicated attention—whether you are seeking to navigate the complexities of your family law matter or overcome the challenges of your immigration law case.

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